Tuesday, December 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Postal staff hold preparatory rally
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — More than six lakh postal and RMS employees all over the country will go on an indefinite strike from tomorrow in response to a call given by the central Joint Council of Action (JCA) of postal employees to press implementation of an agreement signed in December, 1998. Addressing a gate rally of the employees at the head post office here today, the district secretary of the All-India Postal Employees Union, Mr C.L. Verma, decried the indifference attitude of the government which had forced the employees to resort to a nationwide strike.

The joint charter of demands prepared by the JCA calls for implementation of the ‘positive’ recommendations of the Justice Charanjit Singh Talwar committee for extra-departmental employees with reference to grant of status and pension, added Mr Verma.

Other speakers, including Mr Sewa Singh, divisional president, and Mr S.P. Gupta and Mr G.S.Bhatia, assistant divisional secretaries, focused on other pending demands, which include upgradation of pay scales of various categories of postal employees and filling of all vacant posts in all cadres in the Department of Posts.


Banks face piquant situation on VRS
By Monica Sharma

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — Most of the bank managements are faced with a piquant situation over the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) introduced recently for pruning down of the staff. The number of persons applying for the VRS is phenomenal making it tough for the banks to relieve all those applying for this scheme. This scheme was launched in October which will end on December 31.

The fabulous scheme offers to every employee, who has completed 15 years of service or 40 years of age, an incentive of two months salary for the each year of service put in, besides all other retirement benefits like gratuity, pension and leave salary.

An employee who has put in 20 years of service will get a gross salary for 40 months at the rate of last salary drawn or the salary for the number of months of service left. Besides payment of ex-gratia the employee opting for VRS will be eligible for gratuity, pension and leave encashment. Fifty per cent of ex-gratia amount will be paid instantly in cash and the remaining 50 per cent may be given in form of bonds issued by the bank for a period not exceeding 5 years carrying interest rates as applicable on term deposits.

Sources in the banking sector disclosed that the scheme had evoked a tremendous response from the employees of all categories. In one of the leading nationalised banks, the senior manager said, ‘In my bank the entire senior managerial staff has applied for the VRS.’’

While the motive behind launching the scheme is to optimise the human resource and achieve a balanced age and skills profile compatible with the business strategies, the banks are finding it difficult to implement the scheme as most senior people want to leave’’, said a Punjab National Bank Manager.

The response generated by the scheme is making the banks give a second thought to the scheme. “The applications for VRS will be decided on selective basis according to their merit’’ said a Bank of India Manager. However, the scheme makes it clear that the applications of highly skilled and qualified employees who have been given the specialised training in the area of credit, foreign exchange, investment and information technology will not be ordinarily considered.

Another senior official of State Bank of India revealed that the bank managements were faced with a peculiar situation, which may not have been visualised earlier. ‘’It may not be feasible for the banks to relieve all the employees, particularly those at the senior level. Moreover, it may not be possible to pay the huge amount of money to the employees at the same time. On an average an official with at least 20 years of service will have to be paid something between Rs 10 to 15 lakh. With thousands of employees opting for the scheme the liabilities may be too enormous,’’ she said.

Another scheme offered by the banks is for those employees who may not be interested in the VRS but can avail the facility of Sabbatical leave for five years, which can be further extended by another term of five years.

After the period of Sabbatical leave is over the employee may rejoin the bank on the same post and at the same stage of pay where he was at the time of taking Sabbatical leave. The period of Sabbatical leave will not be considered for increments or qualifying service for pension and leave.


CFC school students display science models
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — Nearly 74 science models were displayed at the annual exhibition put up at CFC Public School, BRS Nagar, here today.

In the physics section, a mind reader having a digital display, made by Jaspreet Kaur of Class XII, could tell the number one had in one's mind.

Jaskaran of Class XII displayed an automatic switching on and off of street lights working on the principal of light detecting resistance (LDR) sensor.

Dinesh and Amit of Class XII made a model of radio transmission station.

Vinay and Puneet of Class X devised a model of burglar alarm and Anil, Reshav and Samarvir of Class XI displayed an electric railway crossing.

Step-by-step process of cultivation with models of plankers, harvestors and disc harrow was on display in the biology section. Several varieties of cactus were also on show. There was a model on ‘How AIDS spreads’.

In the chemistry section, there were models of chemical bonding, SP3 hybridisation, radioactivity and water purifier.

Prizes for working models for group A — Timber trail by Shivani, Amita and Shikha of Class X (1), and water purifier by Rahul, Harsh and Gagan of Classes X (2). Group B — Biogas plant by Sukhdev, Rajiv and Deepak of Class XI (1), and intercom by Harpreet, Nishant, Varun, Vivek, Siddhartha and Sonal of Class XI (2).

Prizes for still models for group A — 'Fate of alcoholics' by Niti, Madhav and Nikhil of Class X (1), and 'Structure of heart' by Rashmi and Eeti of Class IX (2).

Appreciation prizes — Refrigerator by Abhinav and Sahil of Class IX (1), and 'Mirage 2000' by Navdeep of Class VIII (2).

Principal Mary Koruth gave away prizes to the students. Dr Daniel Abraham, director of the school, appreciated the efforts of the students. 


Tussle of leaders activates DYC
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — The battle for 'one-upmanship' in the city's Youth Congress is literally being fought in the streets. The fierce rivalry has led to processions and rallies by the two warring factions.

It all started with the party high command replacing the then President of the District Youth Congress, Mr Pawan Diwan, with Mr Parminder Mehta in October.

The change in the district unit was entirely unexpected, since Mr Diwan claimed to enjoy the support of the PPCC leadership and some of the senior party leaders in Delhi. Mr Mehta, who had served as the president of DYC on an earlier occasion as well, was appointed solely on the recommendation of a senior party functionary in Delhi, despite stiff opposition from the Punjab Youth Congress and the PPCC, party sources revealed.

Peeved at being bypassed and removed in an unceremonious manner, Mr Diwan managed the Chairmanship of the urban development cell of Indian Youth Congress (IYC). The new post enabled Mr Diwan and his close supporters to stay afloat in the local political arena.

What followed was a battle for supremacy through a show of strength by the YC factions, led by Mr Mehta and Mr Diwan. Known for his capacity to mobilise the workers, the newly appointed DYC president started a series of public meetings and organised demonstrations to focus on problems like power shortage, inflated power bills, erratic water supply and other issues of public interest. Only last week, Mr Mehta staged an impressive dharna at the Mini Secretariat here to demand the restoration of water supply during the day time.

Not to be outdone, Mr Diwan constituted the district unit of the urban development cell and started holding meetings in the city.

Recently, he led a protest march from Congress Bhawan to Clock Tower, where an effigy of General Parvez Musharraf was burnt to protest against the continued violence in Jammu and Kashmir.

In a surprise development, the hyperactivity in the Youth Congress seems to have activated the District Congress Committee. It organised the birth and death anniversaries of veteran party leaders.

A senior Congress functionary commented that even though the two factions in the Youth Congress were opposed to each other, yet they were both serving the cause of the party.

Describing the development in the DYC and DCC circles in the city as a welcome change, another party activist said, "The DCC office of the city was earlier being run like a ration depot, occasionally opening and most of the times closed. Now it is buzzing with activity and has the feel of being the office of a live political party." 


Scheme for settlement of NPA accounts
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — Under guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India, all branches under the administrative control of Ludhiana module have been instructed to settle NPA accounts in doubtful, loss and substandard categories as on March 31, 1997, on a priority basis, said Mr D.S. Bengali, Deputy General Manager, State Bank of India, zonal office, Ludhiana.

He clarified that in case of doubtful assets, the amount outstanding as on March 31, 1997, or the date of account becoming NPA, whichever was earlier, was the minimum amount to be paid for settling the account. In case of substandard assets as on March 31, 1997, which became doubtful or loss subsequently, the simple interest at PLR rate, which was 12 per cent per annum at present for State Bank of India, would have to be paid in addition to principal amount.

The scheme is valid up to March 31, 2001.


Talwandi’s election hailed
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — Nearly 12 village panchayats of the Mangat block in this district have hailed the election of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi as president of the SGPC.

According to Mr Manjit Singh, president, and Mr Labh Singh, chairman, respectively, of the Sarpanch Union, sweets were distributed in villages to celebrate the occasion. Activists of the union including Mr Inderjit Singh (Kasabad), Mr Girdhari Lal (Harkishan Vihar), Mr Gurdev Singh (Model Colony), Mr Om Parkash, Mr Rachhpal Singh Kadian and Mr Gurjit Singh Bittu have expressed gratitude to the Chief Minister for Mr Talwandi’s election.

Meanwhile, a meeting of Punjabi singers from all over the state, organised by the World Punjabi Culture Promotion Society, here last evening and expressed confidence that Mr Talwandi would put an end to ongoing controversies and confusions among the Sikhs and the SGPC would effectively propagate Sikhism and look after gurdwaras.

Prominent among those who attended the meeting presided over by Mr Dhanna Singh Rangeela were Daljeet Singh Dardi, Chann Shahkoti, Jaswant Billa, Ranjit Mani, Mewa Singh North, Kartar Ramla, Baljinder Shera, Ranjit Rana, Daler Punjabi, Tejinder Rana, Hardeep, Gurmeet Bilaspuri, Soni Parbhakar, Banarsi Phull, Tek Singh Lucky and Manjeet Rupowalia.


Rail accident blamed on govt apathy
From Minna Zutshi

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — The frequency of train accidents has put saftey of rail pasengers under a shadow. Two serious train accidents in Punjab and over two dozen countrywide this year have cost the nation hundreds of lives. The nation has been unable to fix responsibility, while the accidents continue. Resignations by successive Union Railway Ministers has not imporved the situation. Who then is to be blamed for these accidents?

The loss of nearly 50 lives in the Howrah-Amritsar Mail collusion has left several women widowed and children orphaned. On the government’s part, it is again the same story— ordering inquiries that achieve nothing.

Ludhiana Tribune spoke to a cross-section of people to know their views on the issue.

According to Mr Mahinder Singh, a businessman, “The government has a lackadaisical attitude towards the safety of the passengers. There is no accountability on the part of the government. It may sound a bit brusque, but the truth is that any rail accident nudges the government out of its slumber only temporarily and after that it is the same story all over again.”

Dr Gursharan said: “Each accident is a grim reminder of our chalta hai mentality. Why blame the government when we as a nation are hung up on take - it - easy mentality. We do not tire of singing hosannas about the work ethics of countries like Japan. But when our own turn comes , we are miserably nonchalant and non-committal.”

Mr Chander , a factory owner said: “Why shield the erring officials who play with the lives of innocent passengers? Of course, many times, human error is not responsible. But still I feel that there should be some accountability somewhere. May be, the whole thing needs to be revamped.”

In the opinion of Mr Ashok Narang, a chemist: “The first priority of the government should be to revamp all safety measures. All obsolete mechanisms should be done away with. We have modernised our Railways but when it comes to the safety issue, we lag behind at least 50 years from the developed countries like the USA and the UK. Why cannot we give mobiles to the drivers so that they can communicate with the station staff? The information technology has revolutionised the entire communication network, it is indeed a pity that we are still chaperoning outdated technology.”

According to Ms. Seema, a teacher: “A single thing that mars our whole social fabric is that we are reluctant to voice our concern about issues that do not concern us immediately. We, as a nation, are selfish people. We are busy chasing our own individual goals; we hardly have any time or inclination for socially relevant issues. It is this attitude of dis-interestedness that clogs our sense of social responsibility. “

Mr Manu, a businessman said: “The government needs to draw up a comprehensive plan to check railway safety measures. No doubt, the government is confronted with a difficult task and a quantum effort is needed for it. However, if there is sincerity of purpose, things can be worked out smoothly.”

“The government shrugs off its responsibility after doling out money to the victims. There is callous laxity on the part of the government that is most of the time interested in just keeping its vote bank intact,” says Ms Arpana.

According to Mr Paras: “Another major accident within such a short span of time — it speaks volumes about the government’s lack of seriousness! So far, nothing concrete has been done by the government. After all, it is government’s duty to make the train journey safe and secure.


Phones ring at rail enquiry, but many get 
engaged tone
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — Railway enquiry services continuously remain paralysed, with the telephone numbers either remaining consistently engaged or nobody responding. If someone picks up the phone, there is no one to respond to the enquires. If one is lucky enough to find a voice at the other end, it asks the caller to come to the railway station, as all details cannot be narrated on telephone.

Most people Ludhiana Tribune talked to, expressed dissatisfaction over the facilities being provided by Railway authorities. The most common complaint was regarding enquiry services. Whether one has to enquire about train timings or the status of reservations tickets, telephones hardly serve any purpose. In rare cases, information was updated, but only if the person concerned approached the railway enquiry office.

Mr Pardeep Kumar from Mullapur said, “I have been trying to contact the enquiry office for the past two days, but have not got any response. Previously, I dialled 740450 and they asked me to call 131. When I called 131, nobody picked up the telephone. The next day, I again tried the same numbers, but in vain. Then I tried to contact the railway superintendent, but he was not available.”

Mr Naresh, who had come to enquire about railway services, did not get any answer. He rued that nothing was served by going there. They rarely gave exact information. The public suffered due to the negligence of the Railway department, he remarked.

According to Ms Anita Suri, “Whenever we call up to enquire about the scheduled time of the train, nobody picks up the phone. If they pick up the phone, the information provided is never accurate. Information at the enquiry office at the railway station needs to be updated,” she suggested.

Railway authorities denied these charges and claimed that they were always present for the service of the people. They said a separate counter had been set up for clearing the doubts of the public and for giving them exact information. A railway official said, “If the phone remains busy, it is not our fault, as people keep on calling every now and then, seeking many kinds of information.” He said the public should cooperate with them.

There are some people who seem to be satisfied with the information provided by the enquiry office. “Whenever we come here to enquire about train timings, we get accurate information,” said one of the passengers, who was coming out from the railway station after enquiring about the train which had been delayed due to the accident near Rajpura. He added that the problem of disturbance in the telephone services prevailed. The Railway department should install more telephones for the convenience of the public, he suggested. If the number of telephones was increased, the problem would be solved, he observed.


Another monument in a state of neglect
by Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — Islamia High School is one of the oldest schools in the city. While before Partition it was run on religious lines, after Partition the government started a high school for girls in the building. The area is still known as Islamia College Road. It was supposed to be one of the best maintained and a posh locality in the city inhabited by influential Muslims.

While no exact records are available as to when the building of the school was constructed, some old-timers say that the building was constructed much before Partition. It was one of the most spacious buildings constructed with liberal donations by affluent and influential Muslims of Ludhiana.

Most of the Muslims would prefer to admit their wards to this school only, although there were several other schools including the government and missionary run schools. Besides imparting secular education, religion was also taught here.

Partition changed the fate of the school. With almost all Muslims of the area migrating to Pakistan, the school also became a victim of neglect. The school remained under the Custodian Department. In the early sixties the school was handed over to the Waqf Board. The Board rented the building to the Punjab Government at a meagre rent of Rs 250 per month. Currently a girls high school is being run from the building.

The building has already been declared unsafe. About a decade ago, one teacher died in the school when a wall collapsed. Since then the upper storey of the building is not being used. There are about 20 rooms in the school providing space to about 300 students. Despite that the building continues to remain in a state of neglect. Since the building is owned by the Waqf Board, the government does not appear to be interested in its repairs or renovation ignoring the safety of hundreds of children, teachers and other non- teaching employees.

The apathy and neglect has led to a state that the building may collapse anytime, with the risk of losing a monument besides threat to the life of several students and teachers. Despite remaining in a state of utter neglect, the imposing structure still speaks volumes of its pristine grace. Quranic verses are inscribed on the front with the kalima on the top. Local shopkeepers outside the school said, they hardly remember if the building had been painted since 1947.

The apathy towards the monument and the ignorance about its past appears to be encyclopaedic. In fact none of the teachers in the school, or any of the officials of the Waqf Board here was able to give the exact date of the construction of the building. Everyone had only one information to offer that the date of the construction was inscribed on a stone at the front and that stone was covered by dirt that had accumulated on it since ages, besides so many stickers. Nothing could be deciphered. 


Residents install own street lights
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — The Ludhiana Mayor Mr Apinder Singh Grewal inaugurated street lights in the B block of the Model Town Extension here last night. The street lights were installed with the voluntary contributions by the residents and the Municipal Corporation.

Speaking on the occasion, before switching on the lights, Mr Grewal assured the residents of full cooperation on part of the Municipal Corporation. Appreciating the initiative taken by the residents, he pointed out, it would set up a good trend.

Earlier, members of the Model Town Extension Welfare Council, B block thanked Mr Grewal for being instrumental in streamlining the functioning of the corporation. They also appreciated the role of the commissioner MC. They hoped that the corporation would continue with its measures of public welfare.


Computer art won’t appreciate
By Asha Ahuja

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — A recent advertisement in newspapers asked readers to buy works of art of relatively less known artists. In good time these works of art procured cheap can become prize possessions as the artist climbs up the ladder of success. But the price of art created with the help of a computer will never escalate.

With the click of a mouse, you can create a figure or a painting. You do not even have to think of a colour scheme. The computer mixes the colours. Even if man is the brain behind the computer, and the computer is his tool, yet the tool is killing the creativity of man.

Ms Rekha, an artist, says the computer is taking away the creative urge of people. They only sit before the computer. Soon, we will have no cartoonists who create cartoons. She has been running an art school for years and the number of students wishing to learn art has dwindled. They watch the TV and use the computer for everything. They do not want to make the effort to draw. They do not use their brains to select the colours. They just do not have the patience.

Computers have become all pervasive and are managing our lives to a great extent. According to Ms Surinder, another art teacher in a local college, children are losing creativity. When all art work will be done on computers, the art teachers will lose their jobs. The students do not have any idea of mixing colours. They do it just with the flick a finger. The artist can create whenever he or she feels like. The computer is like a prison for the artists. Art gives pleasure whereas computer is an obsession, she says.

Rimpy Parmar, who has studied art for seven years, and is now a teacher of Fine Arts at APJ College, Jalandhar, said, “Computers have caused stagnation of mind and hands. Hands are used only to click the mouse. The artist being creative by nature, wants to feel free. But it is not possible, for those who try to create works of art on the computer. It is sad that our creative juices are drying up.”

In other spheres such as fashion and textile designing, computers are creating hundreds of designs. Morphing, a technique, which can superimpose one image on another, and create a new picture is also being increasingly used. Artists and photographers are using this technique.

The computer, no doubt, has proved to be a boon, but it can be a bane too. 


Ludhianvis wary of working women

Ludhiana has seen a marked increase in the number of women who prefer to pursue an independent career, rather than sit at home.

Men in the city are slow to this change and resent the initiative taken by their spouses. They still feel that there has to be some ‘unavoidable’ and ‘unpleasant’ circumstances that push the women to step out of their homes. Despite the opposition, women are not only on the move, but also seem to enjoy their work, braving all odds like isloated incidents of harassment and victimisation at the hands of the male counterparts.

Ms Nisha Madan, who works as sales manager at VLCC, feels that Ludhianvis do not accept the ‘working woman’ culture. They restrict their thinking that there must be some financial crunch or ‘difficulties’ and ‘problems’ at their homes which force them to go out and work. Nisha, who hails from Delhi, feels that people of Delhi take working women lightly and give them their due respect. She is quite satisfied with her job. However, she says one of her friends is literally being ‘harassed’ by her colleague. Without telling her friend’s name, she says, “She was not happy with her in-laws and tried to get sympathy from this colleague who took advantage.”

She feels that in marketing and sales, men get jobs easily, but appointing a woman is not easily accepted. People think that a woman may not do justice to her job due to her family and children. Nisha considers herself lucky that people around her have never tried to exploit her. She feels, “It depends on the woman also and how she reacts to the situation. One should be sensible enough to tackle the situation.”

“If a woman wants her self-respect acknowledged, she should never try to find a male shoulder to weep on. If anyone tries to come close to you, you should immediately snub him and be offensive in your behaviour,” advises Nisha.

Ms Anju Trikha is thankful to god because she works at a place which is ‘congenial’. She likes women working because she feels housewives generally brood over small issues and nothing fruitful comes out of that situation. A sales representative at a renowned jewellery shop on Mall Road, Anju feels a working woman ‘channelises’ her energy in a proper manner. A working woman always remains active and if a woman is hardworking, honest and courageous enough to face difficulties alone, she can never be ‘harassed’ or ‘exploited’ by her male counterparts.

The negative point which almost every working woman faces is that her children are generally neglected. Sometimes Anju feels, “I could give them something more than what they are getting now.”

Ms Sudarshan Gupta, a senior stenographer at PAU, says being in the public sector, she has never experienced any ‘indecent’ incident. “Atmosphere is always congenial for those women who have confidence in themselves,” she observes.

She says whenever she has faced any problem, she was helped out by her colleagues. The problems she has faced during the job is that of bringing up her children. She says, “At that time, there were no creches or children homes. Sometimes family members and even the husband was not cooperative. But time has changed a lot. Today a boy prefers a working partner who can share the ‘financial responsibilities. Working women get more respect in society.”

Most of the working women do not agree that they are being ‘harassed’ by the males around them. Ms Surekha Paul, who works as a clerk and cashier at Bharat Overseas Bank, says financial independence is essential for today’s woman. If you are working, a sense of security and awareness comes, which boosts your morale. You keep in touch with the surroundings,” she says. She feels that a working woman’s life can be smooth and interesting if there is cooperation from the male counterparts. — SB


Beggars’ haven
from Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — Lakkar bridge continues to attract beggars and babas from all over the country. Whenever a well-to-do businessman arrives at the bridgeway with a couple of men in tow carrying buckets and baskets containing food, the beggars form a cluster around him. They manage to get liberal quantities of food which is enough for the day. There is no dearth of kind-hearted women here who believe in not only feeding the poor and the hungry, but also giving them some money.

A few shady characters hang around the place doing nothing. Some of these beggars are actively engaged in running begging syndicates in the city involving children. The bridgeway is not their home as is generally presumed to be. They live elsewhere in the city. They come to the bridgeway every morning because the place serves as the most convenient address in the town.

A couple of poorly dressed babas have weighing machines placed in front of them. Every now and then, a baba arrives on the bridgeway from some corner of the country, with fantastic stories. One such baba told this correspondent the other day that while he was in Pahalgam, somebody stole his belongings worth Rs 1.5 lakh, which included some silver items. He also described the magical properties of a tree bark he had obtained from an obscure place in the Himalayas.


Nauseating side of Bhadaur House market
By D.B. Chopra

LUDHIANA, Dec 4 — The city’s first upbeat market, the Bhadaur House, built in the early seventies with great aplomb has over the years become a paradox of sorts.

In sharp contrast to the clean front various luxury hotels and reputed business establishments, the open drain that flows behind the market can cause nausea.

With most of the hotels having back doors towards the drain , safai workers Karamcharis of these hotels find the drain a convenient mode of garbage disposal. Garbage from other hotels as well business establishments in the market also lands up in this back lane.

The whole lane that extends right from GT Road in front of the Minerva air-conditioned market up to Society Cinema presents such a godforsaken look that the place is presumed to be an open toilet. The whole lane stinks making it impossible for any one to use it as a short-cut from either side. The dirty street is the favourite of rag-pickers and junk-collectors who can be spotted at any time of the day selecting, picking and sorting saleable garbage stuff like empty Pepsi cans, disposable tea cups, empty bottles and so on. All of them carry separate huge bags for various items like one for the papers, another for Pepsi cans and so on.

The alley stinks around the small overbridge over the drain that serves as a short-cut for people moving between the Ghanta Ghar side and the market. Even the sidewalls of the hotels on the overbridge lane have not been spared by people who use them as urinals.

The owner of a hotel having its back door towards the drain said the man employed by him to dispose the garbage off threw it usually in the municipal garbage bin placed near Society Cinema without confirming whether there was any such garbage bin as claimed by him. The municipal garbage trolley that used to be kept near the cinema is no more there. He said the hotel did not generate much garbage anyway.

What is worse is that hotel owners in the market have no definite plans for a systematised garbage disposal because they are quite satisfied with what they are doing presently, throwing it anywhere they fancy.

Mr N.S. Nanda, president, Bhadaur House Market Association, agrees that all hotels and shops use the back lane for dumping their garbage. He suggests that the lane should be metalled and shops constructed on the drain as per an old plan of the municipal corporation under which some sites had been auctioned nearly a decade ago. He had been reminding the corporation authorities from time to time about the plan and urging them to expedite matters. Since the time limit of three years given to the allottees for construction had elapsed long ago, the sites could be re-auctioned or at least notices issued to the allottees to construct their booths and shops. According to the plan, the allottees are required to erect concrete floors covering the drain at their own cost. Mr Nanda thinks that if these measures are implemented, the back lane can be made to look as good as the one in the front. 


Deprivation of rank hurts ex-servicemen
Lt.Col. S.S. Dhillon (Retd

There is a feeling among ex-soldiers and former officers that their respect is fading and their social and political rights are under threat. This is despite the Army keeping the country’s honour and integrity intact over the past half a century. The unrest in the North East and trouble in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and elsewhere in India has been effectively contained. Some people may say the honour is being accorded to soldiers who are giving their lives and benefits are given to their kith and kin. Trouble begins after the benefits are announced.

A soldier leaving the Army warrants attention from day one of his retirement. Among the many social problems he faces is deprivation of rank. He watches people jumping the long waiting queue and getting things done through the backdoor. His turn comes and he announces his rank and name. The person on the counter writes his name, unmindful of the rank. The ex-soldier looks puzzled and is disappointed. He ponders as to why these people are not made to understand the importance of rank. He has earned his rank through stages and struggle. The soldier signs his death warrant on entering the Army. He returns in one piece by sheer luck.

Take for example electoral rolls, passports and revenue records. The ranks of ex-soldiers are always missing. There is a latent feeling as to why the person is being seen and that he has already served the purpose. He has tolerated a system that lets others do it and when he has come back it is incumbent on the system to recognise him as a patriot. Such misplaced acts on the part of society not only undermines the morale of ex-soldiers but also of those who are serving in the Army.

A soldier readily concedes anything but not his pride and respect. The social structure is saturated with corruption, suffocating his otherwise liberal feelings. He does not find rule of law anywhere. The chaos all around puts him in a state of despondency. A flash of heat springs from the root of his spine to the base of his skull. Ex-soldiers in this state of mind go wayward. There is inherent falsity in the system which does not accord recognition which is due to him.

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